In the week after Twitter banned President Donald Trump from his platform, online misinformation about election fraud fell by a whopping 73 percent, according to a Saturday report by the Washington Post. The discussion of electoral fraud declined from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions on a selection of social media sites, the Post reported, citing data from researcher Zignal Labs.
Twitter banned Trump on Jan. 8, two days after a crowd of its supportersin a riot that killed several people, including a Capitol policeman. A number of people have alleged false election fraud allegations by Trump and others led to violence in the Capitol, and critics on social media said the platforms reinforced those claims by not effectively policing disinformation on their websites.
The data from Zignal relate to the period from January 9th to 15th, the Post announced. The researcher also found that hashtags and slogans related to the Capitol attack on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms were much less common during this period. #FightforTrump fell 95 percent and #HoldTheLine and “March for Trump” fell more than 95 percent, the Post reported.
The Post also cited a study by misinformation researchers at the Election Integrity Partnership which found that a small number of conservative pro-Trump Twitter accounts had a huge impact on the site. Only 20 such accounts were the source of one-fifth of retweets related to voting misinformation.
Twitter isn’t the only one silencing Trump. Facebook banned Trump on January 7th and Snapchat silenced Trump on January 13th. A number of social media websites have also cracked down on content that raises concerns about incitement to violence. For example, Google’s YouTube banned Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast channel on the 8th, the same day that Reddit banned the r / Donaldtrump subreddit.
The Post quoted Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, on the implications of such “de-platforming”. The Council follows up on misinformation.
“The bottom line is that de-platforming, especially on the order of last week, is quick to limit momentum and ability to reach new audiences,” Brookie told the Post. But he added that “it also tends to exacerbate the views of those already involved in spreading this type of false information.”
Zignal Labs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.